I recently upgraded my laptop to Windows 8.1 and ran into a very annoying issue. Every time I tried to right-click something on the desktop or Windows Explorer, the context menu took 10 to 25 seconds to load! The problem was especially severe on the desktop, where I once waited a full 30 seconds for a menu to appear.
I remember that a few years ago I had this problem on a Windows 7 machine, but it was because I had a lot of unnecessary entries (third party extensions) added to my right-click context menu by various programs. I will also cover how to fix this problem in this article. One quick way to check if the issue is a third-party extension or if it’s Windows 8.1 related is to restart in Safe Mode. If the issue does not occur in Safe Mode, go to the “Disable third-party extensions” section.
First method – driver / graphics adapter
In my case, it was a graphics driver issue for this particular laptop. I upgraded to Windows 8.1 too quickly before a graphics driver was released for my hardware. Luckily, when I looked at the manufacturer’s website, there was a new graphics driver for Windows 8.1. I am very fortunate as I have a couple of other computers that do not have the updated graphics drivers for Windows 8.1 installed.
Even if there is no dedicated driver for Windows 8.1, try downloading the latest driver for Windows 8 as that might help you too. If there isn’t even a driver for Windows 8, you just have to wait or go back to Windows 7 if you can’t stand the slow right-click. Finally, some users got lucky: they just uninstalled the current graphics driver and reinstalled it. This seems to fix the problem if there is any damage.
Another trick that worked for some is to go to Device Manager, right-click on the display adapter and select Disable. You can try turning it back on right here, or restarting your computer once and then turning on the adapter. For some reason, this fixed a slow right click in Windows 8.1 for some users.
Method two – disable third-party extensions
If the graphics driver did not fix your problem or this problem occurs on Windows 7, Vista, etc., then it is probably due to the entries that are displayed in the right-click context menu. If you have a context menu that looks something like the one below, that would definitely be your problem.
Honestly, the slowdown is not only due to the number of items in the context menu. Sometimes you may only have a few extra items, but one wrong entry will cause the entire menu to load slowly. Anyway, it’s time to take a look at all of these entries and see if they are causing the problem. The best way to do this is to use NirSoft’s ShellExView program.
Download and run. It is a very small program and you don’t even need to install it. It says it only works up to Windows 7, but works great on Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. When you run it, you get a huge list of items, and it doesn’t make much sense. The first thing we need to do is turn on the filter.
Go ahead and click on Options and then Filter by Extension Type. In the list, you need to select ContextMenu and deselect everything else.
The list should now be much shorter. However, even with a clean install of Windows 8.1, there were over 30 entries. You can pretty much ignore all the system ones that are easily identifiable as Microsoft Windows operating system for the product name and Microsoft Corporation for the company.
The great thing about this program is that you can use it to quickly disable all extensions without uninstalling them. Below, I’ll show you how to actually find registry entries, but this method assumes you actually delete them. Here you can just turn them off and see if that solves your problem.
Go ahead and select all third party entries using the CTRL or SHIFT key on your keyboard. With them selected, go to the “File” section and click “Disable Selected Items.”
Restart your computer and hopefully the problem goes away! If so, then you know that this is one of the extensions. Now you can enable them one by one, log out and log back in and see which entry is causing the context menu to load slowly.
Third method – installed programs
If the above two methods did not solve your problem, the third most likely problem is the installed program interfering with the right-clicking process. Programs like StarDock such as Fences, Start8 and WindowBlinds come to mind. These programs actually connect to Windows and change their behavior along with their appearance.
If you have a skinning or tempering program installed that changes the look and feel of Windows, it is definitely worth trying to uninstall that program and see what happens.
Fourth method – registry keys
There aren’t many options left at this point, and that usually means it’s time to tackle the registry. Definitely use this as a last resort and be sure to back up your computer before deleting anything from the registry. Now that I’ve said this, these entries are not critical to Windows, so even if you removed something that you didn’t need to remove, it won’t mess up your Windows installation.
Go ahead and open Registry Editor by opening the Charms bar and typing regedit. Then navigate to the next key:
HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT Directory background shellex ContextMenuHandlers
On a clean install of Windows, it is completely blank, for example:
If you see any entries here, you can try deleting some of them. You should be able to tell what they are doing by name. For example, you can see Intel Graphics or NVidia if you have them installed. You can also back up the entire key by right-clicking ContextMenuHandlers and choosing Export.
If something doesn’t work later on, just go to the File & Import menu to return the key as it was before you started editing it. This way, you can delete entries even if you don’t know what they are doing.
That’s all. I have never encountered a slow right click on the context menu that could not be fixed by one of the above methods. If you still have problems or have questions about your situation, leave a comment here and we will try to help. Enjoy!